SUMMARY: The time course of lysis of protoplasts of by -ethanol. -propanol, -butanol and amyl alcohol was studied spectrophotometrically. The relative activity for lysis increased with the molecular weight of the alcohol used. Equal degrees of lysis resulted at equal thermodynamic activities of the alcohols. The high lytic concentrations of ethanol and propanol produced side effects which obscured the lysis/time curves. -Butanol showed time delays before the onset of lysis; the significance of this is discussed in terms of protoplast-membrane structure. Because of similarities with lysis by cationic detergents and with the extraction of scrum lipids in the presence of alcohols, it is concluded that the alcohols tested acted on the lipid component of the protoplast membrane and that lysis resulted from the disruption of membrane permeability.


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